Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I think my head's gonna explode

There is way, way, way too much going on all at the same time in terms of sports. Honestly, I never thought I would ever complain about having too many important sports events to watch but I have literally been stressed out trying to plan out my life according to when each game occurs, how/where/when I'm going to watch it, and how not to let all of my other important responsibilities fall by the wayside. Although I wouldn't mind having this "problem" more often, it's true that too much of a good thing can be bad.

Ok, now for a quick round-up. Today marked Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball, including a national celebration for the pioneer at Shea Stadium where the New York Mets played the Washington Nationals. On a far more somber note, tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the Virginia Tech Massacre, which is a day forever ingrained in my memory, as much as I would like to forget it. My sister is a sophomore at VT and she knew one of the 32 fallen victims personally. She texted me on the morning of the shootings letting me know that she was safe and that they had locked down the dorms, but learning later that she had class in the same building where most of the carnage took place still weighs on my mind. I'll never forget watching CNN as they had an estimated death count of around seven people, then announcing that it had jumped directly to 21 deaths, illicting audible gasps on the air from the studio. The Washington Post offers this piece and I'm sure there will be plenty more to read in the news tomorrow.

Back to sports, and it's postseason overload in the District. For the first time since 1988, the Capitals and the Wizards have both qualified for the playoffs. That means that for as long as I can remember, only one or the other has had my attention around this time of year. Through my early childhood, that was generally the Caps' territory as they qualified for the playoffs 14 straight seasons (1983-1996) and four out of the next seven years, highlighted by a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998. Game 1 was simply amazing. Game 2 brought us all back down to Earth. Tonight's game was pretty disheartening, I have to say, not simply because we lost but how we lost.

I'm not saying the series is anywhere near over. The truth is, though, that all the momentum rests with the Flyers now and if the Capitals lose Game 4, I don't see us winning an improbable three in a row. By and large, the team is not playing poorly. Washington lost its last two games (and almost lost Game 1, let's not forget) for two basic reasons. We are making far too many critical mistakes on the defensive end in the way of turnovers, poor positioning & rotation and not clearing the puck effectively. It's strange how well we have done all of those aforementioned things against Philly's vaunted power play, but in even strength is where our defence (Canadian spelling) has struggled. Secondly, the Flyers are playing with more energy overall, finishing checks and getting into the Caps' heads a little. It's extremely frustrating to see Philadelphia send player after player into the crease to knock Huet off his game, but it's even more disturbing not to see anyone sticking up for him. Huet got a minor penalty for shoving Danny Briere after he had basically humped his right pad and you can't blame him, but he shouldn't have to do that himself. Briere should be met with a conveniently-placed shoulder in his 5'6'' face every time he's on the ice and that hasn't been happening.

But with the NHL playoffs, momentum is usually short-lived. Each game is entirely different and you will never see me count out any team that has Alexander Ovechkin. I think we will take Game 4 to even up the series, possibly convincingly in the scoreline. 2 or 3-0 or 4-1 or something along those lines.

Also infuriating has been the constant debate over whether all Caps fans are bandwagon fans. Quite simply; WE AREN'T. Philadelphia fans' inferiority complex has caused them to ignore any actual matters on the ice because let's face it, we have the best player in the league, our future is set up extremely well for success in the future, and our story this season dwarfs the fact that they went from only 56 points last year to the playoffs this year. Philly fans feeling underappreciated -- what else is new? Post blogger Lindsay Applebaum discusses the subject here, check out the comments for some good/bad stuff (by the way, am I the only one that finds Ms. Applebaum very attractive? What's up, Lindsay? Holla at an aspiring journalist...). Then there's this gem from the broadcast of Game 2 on NBC, where studio analyst/franchise ruiner Mike Milbury called us the "Crapitals" live on the air. This is the same Mike Milbury whose claim to fame is going into the stands as a player for the Boston Bruins and beating a fan with his own shoe. And we're supposed to take this man's word as expertise? He's pretty much the hockey version of Isiah Thomas. Yep, he's a jackass.

Look out for an NBA playoff preview by the end of the week where, among other things, I'll point out the several reasons why LeBron James is an idiot. I'm going to go lie down now.


  1. The way we haven't stuck up for Huet in the series has been an absolute disgrace. Probably the only time I've been actually ashamed about how this caps team as acted. If we had stuck up for Huet in the first two games, I GUARANTEE that a little bitch like Danny Briere doesn't' charge the net in game 3. I'd rather lose the series fighting back than have this flyers team of thugs and cheap shot artists treat us like a bunch of punks.

  2. As loud and crazy as the Verizon Center has been down the stretch run of the season, try filling up the building during a last place finish. You know I hate Philly as much as anyone (I am a Pens fan), but to call Caps fans more dedicated than Philly fans is a questionable statement.

    Check out the attendance numbers at home: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/attendance?year=2007
    Philly had an abysmal season, yet they finished top 10 in the league in attendance, at 98.9% capacity at home.

    You guys are passionate when you're there, but unfortunately there aren't enough JJs and DCJonesys in DC...the numbers don't lie, fellas. And as a mathematician, you know I believe in the numbers.

  3. this is true, South. i'm not saying DC's hockey fans are more die-hard than Philly's. i'm just tired of constantly being accused of having an ENTIRELY bandwagon fanbase. it's also true that plenty of the people packing the Verizon Center now are seeing their first Capitals game ever or just started going recently during this run. but the notion that no one in the city knew what hockey was before Ovechkin is far from true. i'll give Flyers fans credit where credit is due. they turn out in greater numbers than us and have more history than us, but that doesn't mean the Caps' history is inconsequential.

  4. Very good response, E. The Caps actually have a pretty rich history, and they definitely have their die hard fans. Plus, does it matter if you have "bandwagon" fans? As you said, some people are seeing the Caps for the first time, isn't this how you build a loyal fan base? People have to jump on the bandwagon at some point before they start following a team as a die hard. We aren't born with a history or passion for a sports team, we have to experience it and learn to love that team. Some people start their love for a team earlier than others. Maybe in 5 years the so-called "bandwagon fans" could then be classified as "die hards".